§ Dr. Mabon
I am seeking to increase the public sector share in offshore oil and gas operations with a view to improving the Government's knowledge about such operations and public sector experience in them. Private sector companies will continue to have an opportunity to apply for further open licences.
§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) why it is Her Majesty's Government's policy that in the sixth round of the licensing one of the criteria for a licence is carried interest acceptance by the applicant of liability for the British National Oil Corporation's exploration and appraisal costs, as a necessary prerequisite to the granting of a licence;
(2) why it is Her Majesty's Government's policy that in the sixth round 293W licences one of the criteria for a licence is whether the application will concede to the British National Oil Corporation an equity interest in the licence of between 51 per cent. and 100 per cent.;
(3) why it is Her Majesty's Government's policy that in the sixth round of licensing one of the criteria for a licence is whether the applicant will concede to the British National Oil Corporation an option to buy all or part of its crude oil or natural gas liquids.
§ Dr. Mabon
These optional criteria have been included in the proposals because offers by applicants of better than standard terms could be in the national interest. One of them is a possible additional equity interest for BNOC of more than 51 per cent. None of the optional criteria would be a prerequisite to the granting of a licence as the assessment of applications will be by reference to the published criteria as a whole.
§ Mr. Campbell
asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he will lay before the House the annual report and accounts of the British National Oil Corporation.
§ Mr. Benn
I have today laid the British National Oil Corporation's annual report and accounts for 1977 before each House, as required by Sections 10 and 15 of the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act 1975. Copies will be available in the Library of the House. I am sure hon. Members will wish to read of the impressive progress made by the Corporation in only its second year of existence, and particularly to welcome the major contribution that BNOC is already making to the furtherance of the Government's policies with regard to the development of the United Kingdom Continental Shelf.